By Mike Lillis - 05/15/12 05:17 PM EDT
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) warned this week that recent deals he's cut with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) are no sign of a newfound cooperation between the feuding parties.
Hoyer and Cantor in recent months have teamed up on a proposal to extend funding for the Export-Import Bank and another to expand military aid to Israel. Both bills passed the House this month with bipartisan support.
"I'm not sure that you can draw from either of those [deals] a generalization that the seas have parted and that we're about to walk down a path of bipartisan comity," Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol.
The Maryland Democrat noted that there's long been broad bipartisan support for military aid to Israel. And he characterized Cantor's support for the Ex-Im Bank as a bow to political pressure from business and other conservative groups rather than a case of compromising with Democrats.
"What really happened there was Mr. Cantor decided that the political position being taken by the hard-liners in his party was untenable," Hoyer said. "He wanted to appeal to the business community, which was overwhelmingly for the Export-Import Bank."
Hoyer and Cantor, as the second-ranking members of their respective parties, often act as mouthpieces for their groups when it comes to the long list of issues that divide them — an ongoing parley perhaps best exemplified by the Hoyer-Cantor colloquies that have become commonplace on the House floor this Congress.
Hoyer said Tuesday that he and Cantor "talk civilly" and "respect one another" but noted that when it comes to big issues like the budget and deficit reduction, the sides remain miles apart.
Hoyer said he's reached out to other GOP leaders — including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and GOP Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) — in hopes of solidifying a grand bargain on deficit cuts that has so far eluded lawmakers this Congress. But he also hinted that he's not holding his breath for such a deal.
"I think Mr. Boehner wants to go there, [and] I think there are others in that group that believe going there makes sense," Hoyer said. "[But] I'm not sure everybody in that group agrees with that."